Camels have an Achilles’ heel. But their vulnerability is hidden by their legendary resilience. These ships of the desert, known for going weeks without water, have been crossing dune seas since before the time of Abraham. They can carry heavy loads and travel thousands of miles across burning sands with seemingly endless endurance. But they give no indication when they are about to collapse. They simply stop, kneel, and die.
Humans, too, have an incredible capacity to rally in the face of calamity and duress, yet our souls hide an Achilles’ heel. We rally and rally and then one day, we discover there’s nothing left. Our soul simply says, “I’m done.” And too often, we collapse into discouragement, depression, or simply blankness of soul.
The last couple of years have been traumatic for many. Each of us has been called on to rally in different ways. And the trauma and drama aren’t over. This decade will require significant internal strength and fortitude.
Our American culture seems to endorse a sort of human invincibility, a belief that if we are willing to go any distance, work hard enough and long enough, and develop enough physical and mental endurance, we can accomplish anything. Those who embrace this philosophy often reap outsized financial rewards. We are fans of goal setting, personal growth, the pursuit of excellence, accomplishment, and achievement. Done well, these allow us a platform to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others and have a positive impact in the world.
But we are human. As such, we desperately need rest. And not just a good night’s sleep but a restoration of the soul. There has been an acknowledgment of the need for this restoration. The creation story speaks in terms of six days of work and a day of rest. Sabbaticals, extended time away for rest, reflection, and restoration, have historically been a part of academic life.
One of the most familiar poems is Psalm 23. In it, King David speaks of green meadows, still waters, and feasts. It is a picture of him experiencing peace, calmness, restoration, and abundance.
In agriculture and animal husbandry, the phrase is lie fallow. Fields need to regularly remain unplanted and simply left to regenerate without the demand of growing crops. A common rotation is to allow a field to lie fallow, or unplanted, one year out of seven.
The same with ranchers. They find that for fields to be healthy long-term, sheep or cattle may not graze them on a regular basis. Nature speaks to the value of rest and restoration.
Find ways to restore. The methods and approach will be specific to each of us. I’ve found that limiting inbound information helps, as does a focus on face-to-face conversation and intentionally being with people. The beauty and grandeur of nature also has great restorative power.
Perhaps the question is not what we will do but what will we rest from doing. Who will we choose to be? How can we extend grace to ourselves by letting go of the compulsive need to do? May we all experience the peace, calm, restoration, and abundance King David spoke of.